New CDC Data Underscores Urgency of America’s Gun Violence Crisis
Even as COVID rages, we can’t take our eye off the gun violence epidemic.
New data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that gun deaths in 2019 are at epidemic levels. This unacceptable trend has persisted for years, and it’s time for it to end. The stakes couldn’t be higher.
In total, 39,707 Americans died from gun violence in 2019. This equates to over 3,300 gun deaths each month, over 763 gun deaths a week, and nearly 109 people killed with guns every day. The numbers are staggering, and we must never forget that behind them are very real stories of people with stories of their own. Individuals who are no longer with us because of a preventable tragedy.
The CDC publishes data with a one-year delay, but data collected from local agencies and media reports suggests that the gun death rate in 2020 may have increased even beyond 2019 levels. According to reporting from The Trace and data from the Gun Violence Archive, by October 2020, the number of gun homicides had surpassed the total for 2019. And many scholars have reason to believe that spikes in guns sales and worsening economic conditions associated with the pandemic will further exacerbate our nation’s suicide crisis.
The 2019 data released by the CDC underscores the traumatic and deadly impact gun violence has on lives and safety of communities across the country. Gun suicide and homicide rates continue to rise year after year. Every instance of gun violence devastates families and communities and leaves survivors to cope with grief, loss, and trauma. With a new administration entering the White House and a new Congress soon to start its session, we have an opportunity to make meaningful progress on gun safety at the federal level.
KEY FINDINGS FROM THE CDC’S DATA RELEASE:
- On average, someone was killed with a gun in the US every 13 minutes in 2019.
- 2019 marked the third consecutive year that over 39,700 people died from gun violence.
- During the last decade, the number of gun deaths increased 25%, from 31,672 in 2010 to 39,707 in 2019, with a high of 39,773 in 2017.
- Firearms continue to drive the suicide epidemic in the United States: more than 50% of all suicide deaths in 2019 involved firearms. Nearly 24,000 people died by gun suicide in 2019, representing 60% of all gun deaths.
- Firearm homicides and assaults have risen precipitously in the last few years, and these increases have been particularly concentrated in communities of color. Black Americans died from gun homicides at a far higher rate than any other racial or ethnic group. Black men in particular died by gun homicide at nearly eight times the national rate.
- Gun deaths continue to be a leading cause of death for nearly every age group, outpacing motor vehicle deaths. In 2019, there were more than 2,100 more firearm deaths than motor vehicle deaths.
- While the total number of gun deaths slightly decreased from 2018, 27 states plus Washington DC had more gun deaths in 2019 than in 2018.
- More than 1,700 children were killed with guns in 2019. More than 60% of these deaths involved children of color.
Every incident of gun violence is tragic, but the number of gun deaths in 2019 is more than tragic: it’s unconscionable. With the anticipated rise in gun deaths in 2020, our leaders can’t delay. They must act. We know the policies, programs, and laws that will work to save lives: we just need leaders with the courage to enact them. In 2021, we’re calling on our elected leaders to save lives by funding community violence-prevention initiatives and suicide prevention work as well as passing gun safety legislation at all levels of government.
HERE TO HELP
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